CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Apprehensive that the re-scheduling of the peace talks could further result to the escalation of the armed conflict and dislocation of civilians especially in the countryside, Mindanao multi-sectoral leaders have asked the Duterte administration to push for the resumption of the negotiation and to “do all the necessary steps and forward reforms that would end poverty in all forms.”
A joint resolution was crafted by local government and people’s organization leaders with the help of legislators during a two-day forum organized by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) at a hotel here on Thursday.
The second Mindanao Peace Forum for Legislators and Local Governments participants said they are alarmed by the “repeated cancellation” of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front especially now that the panelists are deep into negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement of Social Economic Reforms (Caser) aimed at addressing “the structural inequalities underpinning both conflict and poverty in Mindanao.”
The forum attendees said they are “deeply concerned by the enormous impact of the armed conflict on marginalized and vulnerable sectors, resulting to massive internal displacement, disruption of livelihoods, fear and trauma among women and children.”
The continuation of the peace talks, said NAPC Secretary Liza Maza, is very essential to improve the lives of the poor and the less fortunate.
“To end poverty, therefore, requires us to build peace – and vice versa – for there is a close mutual relation between poverty and peace. Where there is armed conflict, families are often displaced and their access to even the most basic needs are compromised. And where there is chronic poverty and gross inequality, there is social unrest,” Maza, in her message to the forum participants, said.
Bayan Muna party list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate in his speech said it is the role of legislators to formulate laws that keep in mind the interest of those who are living in poverty.
“Our engagement in peacebuilding as lawmakers is to ensure that our laws are on the side of the marginalized,” Zarate said.
He has also urged his fellow members of Congress to file bills and resolutions that “forward the cause of genuine agrarian reform, self-determination, national industrialization, the protection of human rights, providing workers a live wage, or shelter for the homeless.”
“Our role as legislators is to use our stature and platform to criticize policies and programs that exacerbate the plight of our people… As legislators, we should be instruments in genuinely resolving the root causes of the rebellions in our country,” Zarate added. (davaotoday.com)